Network members go digital during COVID

Laser scan of Chance Glass Works by the University of Wolverhampton

The latest Network poll asked our members about the uptake of digital technology, particularly during the COVID crisis.

Zooming in

When it came to basic marketing and communication tools, not surprisingly the big winner is Zoom and its competitors, with 85% of respondents reporting taking up video conferencing for the first time during the COVID crisis, meaning that 94% of members now use it.  The next biggest increase was in the use of online file-sharing (such as Dropbox) up 13% and online banking (up 11%).  20% of respondents had increased the number of social media channels they were now using.

“We have started to deliver more events and activities online, using Youtube; Zoom and Facebook. Our AGM was successfully held on Zoom last year. We use Slack as a communication tool for staff and Board members; we had this before the Covid outbreak but we relied on it heavily while we were navigating our way through the pandemic.”

“Our social media presence and really increased during the Covid pandemic in recognition of it being the only way to show that we were still up and running. We have also moved talks online and this has allowed us to expand the number we offer. We’ve found people have been happy to pay for content and have been generating a surplus from them.”

“I spend more time on virtual meetings. I would prefer it to be a more immersive experience when working with larger groups of people.”

“everyone is keen to get back to meeting face to face”

Drones and lasers

For those members currently carrying out restorations projects the biggest uses of digital technologies are in the surveying of sites with 56% using digital surveying techniques and 72% using drones.  37% of respondents use digital 3D modelling and only 8% go for the full Building Information Management (BIM) system (although almost a third or respondents did not know whether their architects or contractors were using BIM).

“We use Basecamp, which is a cloud-based project collaboration tool. We’ve used it for years and found it to be valuable for managing projects with other users wherever they are based.”

Online experiences

Among those members who manage a site which is normally open to the public there has been a significant move to put content online, with 24% adding photos, online tours or interactive experiences to their websites, and 21% producing films of their site for the first time. Podcasts had previously only been produced by 3% of respondents but a further 35% embraced this technology during the lockdowns. 21% used online ticketing systems such as Eventbrite for the first time.

“During the Covid lockdown we made extensive use of social media (Facebook and Twitter) to highlight our collections, posting a different artefact or document each day for several weeks.”

“We made a short film to replace a site visit for funders and shared it at the Teams meeting.
We got our audio-vision system upgraded to use it to participate in blended meetings/services.
We have applied for funding for live streaming equipment for the future.”

“Our fundraising slowed because of Covid which meant that we couldn’t hold open days at the Site. The Open days always resulted in a surge of Investment.  We created a ‘walk through’ video of the Building and posted on our website, partner websites and Facebook and YouTube.  This helped to encourage more investors to come forward.  Video really worked for us in terms of greater engagement with audiences far and wide and we will expand the use of video going forward.”

“We produced our first App called Discover Portrush which is free download with no advertising. Downloads to date 2000+. Our second App called Young Explorer Portrush or YEP! will be launched at Easter.”

However, some members are still finding the digital world difficult, despite the available support:

“As a group we are not very tech/digital savvy – this is one of the areas where we need help.”

We’re not very good at this digital stuff and would love any tips and suggestions!”

The poll was conducted between 25th February and 1st March – 68 members responded.

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